Date: Thursday, December 08, 2011 @ 21:22:54 EST
Topic: Lake Worth


In this joyous season, I am celebrating the potential for renewal in Lake Worth which began with a bold move to clean out city management from the top down.

From Paul Boyer to Susan Stanton… inept, corrupt, wasteful and often cruel leadership disregarded the public and common sense honesty and openness.

Yes, I know there are those who are disappointed to see Stanton fired but dwelling on one side of her performance while ignoring the other side of the story… is delusional.

Let’s begin with Stanton’s first and most unsuspecting target, Lake Worth Media (LWM), taken completely by surprise with a malicious and totally unprovoked attack.

During the time between Stanton’s election for city manager and the month she took office, LWM did not engage in any of the common speculation and rumor milling as to her qualifications or appropriateness for office and LWM shared a great hope that her integrity and claims of spiritual reverence for the primary importance of open and transparent government would make her an effective leader bringing peace to Lake Worth.

In a private meeting with Suzanne Mulvehill, Stanton, and myself right after Stanton took office... Stanton repeated what I thought to be just a rumor or joke. She accused LWM of “sticking a camera in everyone’s face, zooooooooming and zooooooooming out, distracting the audience at meetings, and obstructing the audience view of meetings.” I thought the obvious over-dramatization was a signal that it was a joke.

In five years, not a single commissioner or staff member had ever objected to my filming meetings. On a number of occasions, I asked the city clerk if I was inconveniencing her in any way or causing any interference to the commission or their meeting, or if she had any preferences or suggestions she could offer. She assured me each time that I should surely put the matter to rest as there was nothing at all to be concerned about. Even Jeff Clemens who certainly had no love for LWM… was politically savvy and gentleman enough to understand cameras in the meeting room are never a bad thing if transparency and open government are indeed of paramount importance to good government.

After this opening salvo from Stanton and seeing no move on my part to defend myself from this false accusation, Stanton tried to provoke a response by engaging in ridiculous antics and dramatic role playing suggesting that I sit in her chair and she in mine so I could be the city manager. This juvenile behavior was embarrassing for Suzanne as Stanton was making a total jackass of herself prancing around the table as if this were some form of ritual foreplay or prelude to some serious discussion of something. She was just plain nuts ...and Suzanne knew it.

Remaining quiet, unmoved and calm, I smiled as she insisted on playing musical chairs. I was waiting for Suzanne to intervene and correct Stanton’s false accusations about filming commission meetings.

While Suzanne nervously fumbled about trying to bring calm to the air, I could see she was obviously a little freaked out at the bizarre behavior and when she did try to put me into a favorable light she stopped short of countering Stanton’s false accusations.

This became clearer when at a later commission meeting …commissioners sheepishly agreed to ban cameras from the meeting room. They had just sold out their friend and advocate and it was clear Stanton was already in control of the commission as they went against their better sense of fairness, and good government to appease "mother hen" (Stanton).

Almost immediately after this meeting, Stanton lowered the seating capacity of an already under capacity commission meeting room by taking out the first one or two rows of seating… another blow to public convenience in participating in their government. Everything was adding up to... “he who controls information controls everything.”

Over the next few months, instead of filing backup material to her weekly city manager reports in an orderly and convenient manner, she began intermixing backup material making it nearly impossible to conveniently get the information. Later on, she made it even more difficult to get any information from her reports.

A few months after that, she agreed with the utility director to place a gag order on employees forbidding them to tell the truth about what had happened when an unknown assailant gained access to the master utility computer causing it to lose critical data. In a public meeting, she told the Sheriff and the Post that she had conducted a thorough investigation on the security breach and that there was no breach as the utility director had said. But utility employees contacted LWM and were adament that no one in the utility had been interviewed nor had there been any investigating of any kind.

So LWM requested any and all investigation records, correspondence, memos, meeting schedules, a list of interviewers, who was interviewed etc… and the city was unable to produce a single scrap of paper, a single record or even a single memo to show any investigation had ever taken place… just as employees had said.

And a little interesting side note here… when LWM offered to show Post reporter, Willie Howard, the documentation showing Stanton’s statement about conducting an investigation being false… Willie refused to look at it or write anything about it. That’s what we mean by Post staff operating in a vacuum. So I see no surprise that they still overlook the obvious.

Making matters worse, in order to cover for the utility director’s screw up, Stanton agreed to place gag orders on utility staff forbidding them to mention anything about what had happened. Threats and intimidation of employees is something we more associate with the mafia than our local government... but there it is in black and white.

Finally, as with all tyrants obsessed with controlling everything… Stanton’s very pursuit of controlling everything led to her controlling nothing. The final blow to the public came a few months ago, as she insisted on turning the audio off outside the meeting room in the hall thus preventing the public from hearing the meeting just because they couldn’t find a seat in the reduced capacity meeting room. Then to make sure no one outside the meeting room could participate, she then secured the meeting room doors in a highly symbolic move to prevent any residents outside the meeting from participating in their government.

This only added to the other grievances such as the withholding financial information from the public which the Post also chose to marginalize. It was one thing for Stanton to make the meeting room smaller, make video taping nearly impossible, impede and obstruct the free flow of information... but preventing the public from participating in their government…that surely smacks of behavior unfit for anyone running a city.

In the end, it's the arrogance and obsession with controlling the commission and the public that caused her firing. She may have gotten away with it in Largo Florida, but not in contentious Lake Worth where the public can ill afford to have such deceitfulness prevail in their government.

And it should be a message to all tyrants who engage in such deceitful and devious activity, that sooner or later, you will be summarily tossed out on your ear in a most embarrassing way and those few that lament, will soon forget your name. You may choose to extol her accomplishments ...perhaps on standing up to the County and saving our 15 million investment in the RO facility instead of handing it over to the County... yes, good work and perhaps not interfering with getting our electric upgrade back on track after 10 million was wasted on the wrong upgrade... yes, good things. And you can lament her absence, and no one can take that away from you… but don’t deny the reality that we are saying goodbye to someone unfit for office for one and only one simple reason... they did not honor the foundations of democratic and Constitutional government which does not begin by saying "We the appointed..."

This article comes from Lake Worth Media

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